He told me his name was Iain and we started talking after he stopped to pet my little dog. (If you want to make friends anywhere in the British Isles, all you really need to do is walk with a dog. A horse would probably work too, but it’s a lot harder to keep on a leash…)
As we walked through Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, I asked Iain what he thought of the upcoming referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent country. His head says it’s not a good idea, Iain admitted, but “If you cut me, I bleed tartan.” After living in Glasgow his entire life, he can’t help feeling that despite all the issues and very good objections, his heart wants to see an independent Scotland.
Iain asked me what I thought of the Botanic Gardens, and talked about how important it’s been to Glasgow to have such beautiful parks and museums. Then he told me how he’d been taking care of his mother for most of the past decade as she suffered from Alzheimer’s. She’d been a park employee for many years as she raised her three children. Her son told me how much she’d sacrificed for them, and what it meant to him to be able to take care of her, even though it meant giving up his own job. As her ability to communicate declined, she still loved coming to the Gardens to see the flowers and the birds. He told me that with the “blue badge” for his car, he could park close enough to bring her every day for seven years, rain or snow or shine.
Although the Botanic Gardens doesn’t usually do memorials, they recently planted her favorite tree, a linden, in her honor after she passed away. I asked if he could show me the tree, and we walked to the top of the park to admire a brave little sapling. You can tell that it’s got plenty of room, Iain said, and that in years to come it will be watching over the park she loved so much. And just maybe her tree will watch over an independent Scotland as well.